Letters-to-the-Editor: Camphor concerns

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What to gain, and what to lose

While we need to make Church Street safely accessible I believe this is possible to do and keep the old camphor laurel trees that give us much needed shade in town and so much atmosphere for our cafe strip. 

Seeing kids climbing them for fun adds to all that atmosphere.

I haven’t heard Bellingen Shire Council talk about any alternative approaches they considered to solve the access problems other than cutting down the trees.

A quick online search to see how other councils handle problems like these will discover that Kuring-gai Council includes root-shaving to reduce uneven surfaces such as we have, especially in our tree on the NE corner, in their “Proactive Tree Management Policy” which states: “The policy will attempt to reduce unplanned tree loss eliminating potential hazards through appropriate management techniques to prolong the life of our tree resource.”

In the case of camphor laurels, consideration will be given to the retention of these individual trees that are considered to be significant, and management of trip hazards as a result of tree root growth includes “grinding or shaving root down to ground level”.

I spoke to the tree maintenance supervisor about this process and he said that they had never lost a tree doing this.

Can you imagine last January or February without the shade of those trees? 

How long will it take to get the current shade cover from replacement trees? Decades. 

Where else in town can you sit in the shade on our stinking hot days?

Before we remove trees over a hundred years old, can we please take a moment and look at alternatives.

The area on the cafe strip could be covered with a timber deck slightly higher than the concrete now, after the tree roots have been shaved back.

A simple hand rail along the street edge eliminates the fall hazard there.

Bellingen Shire Council is contributing about $160,000 to this project.

I was taken aback by the $150,000 Bellingen Shire Council spent in 2014/16 on a review panel whose results we are not allowed to see.

What is going on here?

I think council should spend some of our money looking at alternative solutions to losing a much-loved part of Bellingen’s heritage and atmosphere .

Anne Graham, Bellingen

The Australian Greens have lost their way

The Australian Greens have lost their way and are in danger of becoming just another establishment political party.

First of all, the federal Greens have colluded with the Coalition government in allowing cuts to the age pension which has left them unable to present the bigger picture. Both Labor and the trade unions have opposed these cuts although Labor has not agreed to reverse them.

The conduct of the federal Greens MPs in supporting pension cuts was astonishing. A senate inquiry was held but when Richard Di Natale became the Greens leader it was conducted with unseemly haste. There was little time for public submissions and no opportunity for public hearings. Various submissions showed that the government’s claims were misleading. 

Yet the Greens still supported the legislation.

The Greens have also tried to represent these pension cuts as a redistribution from the rich to the poor. 

But this is an illusion. If the pension cuts were actually a redistribution one would expect the poorest to benefit. Yet pensioners with the fewest assets get nothing from these changes. The most vulnerable see no change.

Secondly, the local official Greens have failed to support the Tarkeeth residents in their campaign against the Forestry Corporation’s plan to clear-fell Tarkeeth State Forest. This is despite the fact that this plantation forest is on a steep slope between two rivers, the Bellinger River and the Kalang River, and the state forest harboured significant wildlife.

The protests have been left to brave individuals such as the “Tarkeeth Three” and groups such as Susan Weil’s ‘Not in my Forest’. 

Ms Weil said that she and many other Tarkeeth residents were concerned about the cocktail of thousands of litres of toxic chemicals being used. Yet not a word of protest from the official local Greens.

Finally, the ‘green’ council plans to remove the Church Street camphor laurel trees for dubious reasons such as they are a ‘noxious weed’ and cause damage to infrastructure, private vehicles and pedestrians.

However, a weed is simply a plant in the wrong place. There are thousands of camphor laurels throughout the Bellingen Shire, yet the council has no plan to remove the remaining numerous camphor laurels even though they are all apparently ‘noxious’. 

This is a derogatory term for these beautiful 100-year-old iconic trees which provide valuable shade in the hot summer months.

Also, the claim that these beautiful trees cause damage to infrastructure and risk life and limb is obviously a furphy since all trees have some impact on infrastructure. 

These trees have been neglected by the council for decades. If they were properly maintained and regularly pruned any damage could be kept to an absolute minimum. 

Furthermore, the claim that pedestrians and private vehicles are at risk from these camphor laurels is a ludicrous assertion since there is no evidence to support this argument.

In the light of these matters, I will have to reconsider whether I will vote for the official greens in future elections.

Adrian Wolfin, Bellingen

A call to arms

This is a call out to everyone in our community who feels as strongly as my friends and I do about the sterile town plan that our council and the landscape architect from Brisbane wants us to accept.

If you do care about the destruction of a wonderful town centre, to be replaced by more concrete and steel, much less greenery, heavily reduced parking, high maintenance planter boxes, less shade in the heat of summer, please let your voices be heard now, so our council can’t help but listen!

Instead of being the silent minority, join the vocal majority, too many lies have been told in the past to justify not only the destruction of our only shade trees, but also council justification for a 6 per cent rate increase, which was rushed through without a mandate from the community.

Bellingen Shire Council has a large administration payroll. Hence, would you support an independent audit of our council's financial records, to be made public, to obtain some clarity how our hard-earned money is distributed, and how council could cut back, and yet still have sufficient money in the kitty to fix all the necessary infrastructure, and maintain roads and bridges, without the 6 per cent rate increase?

Whilst we’re at it, let’s vote to also finally get rid of the toxic fluoride added to our drinking water without our consent – it is illegal to mass-medicate the public without their consent! 

So why are we still putting up with it?

There is plenty of information out there for you to check for yourselves, how toxic this byproduct of the fertilizer industry is if ingested, heck, they even make the poisonous sarin gas out of it.

This is your chance to have your voices heard, so use the media, write letters to our newspapers, contact your councillors, call in to local radio stations such as 2bbb and ABC Coffs Coast, don't take this lying down anymore, instead take action!

In the famous words of Peter Finch, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”

Ziggy Koenigseder, Bellingen